Last weekend Spokane County Raceway oval track enthusiasts got to take in the grand opening stock car race with the ASA iRacing.com Northwest Late Model Tour event won by Gary Lewis. This weekend it’s the drag strip that gets the grand treatment with its first event of 2009 and the first NHRA-sanctioned race.
For Tim Mann of Spokane, having the track up and running suits him and his Fabulous Floors Corvette West Coast Pro Modified Association team just fine and eventually will pay off in testing and other cost-saving options.
“It’s a big plus to have Spokane open and under the NHRA sanction,” Mann said. “We’re familiar with running the track in the past, but they’ve made so many changes with the new concrete and everything else that it’s like having a brand new racetrack. Getting the right setup for the weekend now will really depend on how well they prepare the track for fast passes.
“If it’s a green racetrack, which it should be with all the rain lately, you won’t be able to put a lot of horsepower to it.”
Mann has made passes at the former Spokane Raceway Park layout. This weekend will be his first in the new configuration. While he hasn’t had the chance to test in the spring, that doesn’t mean testing is out of the question during the rest of the season.
“Having the track open and right here in our backyard is huge,” said the only WCPMA driver based in Washington. “You can test anytime you want and not have to go very far to do it.”
Bringing the WCPMA teams into Spokane is a big honor for the series’ only local racer, Mann said. With Pro Mod teams at SCR the pressure to perform is a bit greater come Sunday, he said.
“It’s nerve-racking (to have the WCPMA) in town because the series has such heavy hitters with Dennis Radford, Vern Mills, Joe Delehay and others having 800 cubic-inch motors, some powered by nitrous while others have the blower style,” he said. “I’ll be happy to just make it into the final four pairing in this opener.”
Mann speaks from years of West Coast drag racing experience. He’s the team’s engine builder, transport driver, painter and builder of the ’63 Chevrolet Corvette fiberglass-bodied racer that he pilots.
Experience doesn’t mean that some anxious moments are not in store for this weekend’s Pro Modified format. A total of 16 of the West Coast’s fastest Pro Modifieds will battle for eight seeded positions then race toward a final-round pair.
Nitro cars versus blower-based motors will be a big thrill for the auto racing aficionados, whether they’re drag racing followers or just everyday fans, he said.
“Nitro cars weigh just 2,400 pounds while a car with a blower is at 2,650, so that is a lot of weight to have to bolt on,” he said. “The rule is designed to keep the cubic-inch measurements equal by having the extra pounds, but we’ll see if it keeps the playing field level.”
Inland Empire fans will be the clear winner this weekend because of all the improvements and the level of show SCR is bringing in to kickoff the 2009 drag racing season, Mann said.
“I’d tell everyone coming out for this event to sit back and enjoy themselves, because the racing is going to be awesome with a lot of fast cars on the track.”
If you go
Spokane County Raceway is hosting a two-day NHRA event with more than 300 Sportsman series cars expected to compete along with Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars from track operators Bucky Austin and Garrett Bateman. The pair will be making passes at more than 250 mph.
Also scheduled to compete will be a full field of Nostalgia Alcohol Funny Cars and the jet-powered cars Warhawk and Nighthawk.
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